Category Archives: Paint

Project Elephant Update: The Refinished Dining Table

I’ve mentioned several times a certain Facebook Sale + Trading site that I’ve used to clear out some furniture we didn’t need, but it’s also been really good for scoring several incredible deals as well.

Perhaps the most amazing of which was this table.


Somehow, I managed to be first in line to claim it (it’s a first come, first served kind of thing), and there was much use of the crying eyes emoji by all of the commenters who came after me.

It was a really great price (and I even sold the chairs that came with it because they weren’t quite right for me, so I made half of my money back), but I aaaaaalmost didn’t get it because it needed some TLC, and, since I have those half dozen children who need TLC all day errrr’day, it seemed a bit foolhardy to take on another project.

But those legs! Seriously, I couldn’t pass up the stems on that table.

And now that she’s done, I’m so glad I didn’t.

When I posted the above pic and mentioned that I shouldn’t have bought her due to her fixer upper status, I got a slew of, “Don’t touch her! She’s beautiful just the way she is!” comments.

Which I get. But outside of the big ol’ gouge out of the wood, this is what her finish looked like up close.


And since we’re going to be eating off of her, I didn’t think it was thee best idea to mix peeling varnish with our peeled potatoes.

Honestly? She wasn’t that hard to perk up. All it took was some wood filler for that huge gouge, a quick round with an orbital sander on the tabletop, an even quicker hand-sanding of the legs, a coat of paint, and a little intentional distressing of said paint…and she was good to go!


{The top is painted SW Rainwashed, in case you’re wondering; it’s the palest gray/blue/green}

It was probably 2 hours tops.

Is she perfect?


{Hello, gorgeous gams!}


And that is so the point. I love her craggy, weathered self. I wouldn’t like her as much if she were shiny and lacquered. I like my tables like I like my people. Real and quirky and pragmatic and a little rough around the edges.


And you know what else I like? Having another item crossed off my latest Project Elephant list (I’ve got another BIG one to show you soon, but it’ll have to wait just a bit longer).


Now, if only I could manage to make my bedroom curtains sew themselves. Le sigh…

P.S. After referring to my table as a “she” for this whole post, I really feel like she needs a name. Any thoughts?

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A painted pantry door…

First things first…

After receiving multiple comments (and even a text from a friend!) about the “lady on my shoulder” in Monday’s post, I wanted to make sure that all of you got the chance to meet my new little friend.  (Zero in on my left shoulder if you’re still confused).


Quite the optical illusion, eh? I laughed so hard when I first saw it.

Aaaaaand now back to the business at hand…which would, apparently, be asking for recommendations on the best place to send my 4th child for Poser’s Anonymous meetings.

evy collage

I was getting all set up to take pictures of our pantry door, and when I looked up, I discovered that this adorable little urchin (who dressed herself, by the way) had dragged a stool right into the middle of my shot and was doing some hardcore cheesing.

Of course, I cooperated by snapping a pic or 50 and then scooted her cute little bottom out of the way so I could show you guys what I was actually trying to shoot.

If you recall, this is what our pantry door looked like before.

old kitchen

It played nicely off of the rug, mixer, island (which you can’t actually see in this pic), and various other red elements in the kitchen.

But we’ve had a bit of a shake up in the kitchen over the last few months (I am going to try SO hard to do a complete reveal next week, but nobody hold me to that too closely, m’kay?), and the red just didn’t jive as well as it used it.

I thought about all sorts of other statement colors–canary yellow, coral, aqua…and so on and so forth.

But, shockingly enough for my color-loving self, I kept coming back to the idea of black. And I figured if I were going to paint it black, I might as well paint it a useful black. And by “useful,” of course I mean “chalkboard.”

So, the morning of the twins’ party (because, why not add one more thing to the list?), I plopped my pantry door on my island and started slapping paint on it (while my children ate Raisin Bran at the very same island about two feet away).

chalkboard door

The plan is to let the kiddos go to town on the lower portion of it and then to use the upper part for menu-planning (Ezra, who is a pretty typical firstborn, was very excited about the prospect of knowing what was on the docket for dinner each day…and holding me to it. “But, Mama, the first one says, ‘Turkey Lasagna,’ and Monday is first, so today should be Turkey Lasagna!” Ever heard of the words “not set in stone,” kid?)

chalkboard door3

I’m certainly no chalkboard artist, but I do like to play around with fonts and such, so one night, I stayed up way too late writing all of this out, and now that I’ve got it to my liking, I’ll simply erase the specific menu items and replace those each week as we go.

chalkboard door2graphic

The one thing I do want to do to jazz things up a bit is to spray paint the knob a fun pop of color. I’m leaning toward my beloved blue/green, and I’ve even got the perfect color…if I can just find it. Grrr.

Also, it might be fun to paint that little alcove something other than white to make the white trim around the door really stand out…but I’m not completely sold on this idea, simply because that hallway flows into two other rooms, and the paint transition would probably be awkward.


Oh! And, in case you’re wondering about my “technique” for painting (other than the plopping and the slapping I mentioned earlier), I first lightly sanded the existing paint, and then used a foam roller on everything but the grooves (those I brushed) to apply very thin coats of chalkboard paint. It took about 4 coats, but they went on very quickly, and dried crazy fast, so the whole project didn’t take but about an hour.

Also, I made sure to “season” the whole thing with chalk to make it both quicker to take anything we write on it and easier to erase.

And my “I,” I mean these two handsome fellas.


(If you’re not familiar with the concept of seasoning chalkboard paint, all you do is rub the chalk on, using the length or sides of the chalk piece, then wipe/wash it off with a damp cloth, and you’re good to go!).

So, there you have it! A pantry door that hides the often messy shelves within and gives my firstborn yet another way to keep his mama in line.

Win! (?)

Any suggestions for wall colors and/or knob options?



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In case you were wondering…



…I painted that frame I asked for your help with.

Just as a quick refresher, these were the color options:

paint frame choices 

As the votes came in, it was obvious that Option 1 was the clear winner, with respectable competition from Option 3. IMG_9104

So, which one did I choose?


None of the above.


Or, perhaps, a bit more accurately, TWO of the above.


You see, Option 1 was a bit too “brick,” and Option 3 was a smidge too “salmon.”

But together (and by together, I mean approximately 3 parts Option 1 to 1 part Option 2), they make a gorgeous shade of coral, which, I’m not gonna lie, was kind of what I had in mind for the space all along.

Thanks for confirming my hunch!

Oh, and can we stop for a minute and talk about that stunning mug over there in the corner?


My good friend, Liz, gave it to me for Christmas, and, while, yes, I do drink out of it, I’ve been having fun moving it around the kitchen into spots that need a bit of flair. It’s way too pretty to put away in the cupboard.

(In case you’re wondering, they’re from this collection that I featured in my 2013—I almost said “last year’s,” but that just sounded really dramatic—Amazon gift guide).

So, what do you think? Did I make the right choice?

Are you a custom paint-mixer or do you tend to stick to the color that comes home in the paint can? I’m a combo deal. There are plenty of straight-out-of-the-can paint colors on our walls, but I also have a disturbing proclivity for mixing “just the right shade” from what I have on hand. Disturbing because inevitably something gets smudge or nicked, and I’ve used up all my custom touch-up paint.

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“Help with the dishes” (Chalkboard art) + Can I get some help too?

I’ve wanted something cute to fill the blank space above my sink for—oh—a good year now.

This is what it looked before when I first revealed the kitchen.

old sink art

It’s fine, but it was a bit too impersonal for my tastes.

So, what better way to personalize something than with a little chalkboard art?

I read an article in some sort of design magazine the other day that assured me that the chalkboard obsession is on the wane. But I don’t really care. If I still like it, I don’t mind if it’s not fashionable, so I tried my hand at a quote which was just perfect for over-the-sink placement.


Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire my family? (Although, honestly, the kids already unload the dishwasher regularly, and Shaun helps when he can).

The FB and IG crowd loved it, so I thought you guys might want to see it too.

(Plus, I’ll ask for you help in a minute; I’m sneaky like that)


The frame is a Goodwill find (maybe $2?) that I primed before spray-painting the glass with chalkboard paint.

Another fun find (from a flea market in Riverside was this vintage owl coin bank.


Oh, and one more: a $1 bowl from Marshall’s with a happy little mustard-colored pansy stuffed inside.


The only thing is, as I mentioned, I had primed the frame only, with every intention of painting it a fun color.

Only when Shaun saw it, he thought the mottled black and white look was intentional and even looked good.


And I don’t necessarily disagree.


Especially if I had a French country kitchen with lots of neutral colors and chippy paint finishes.

But with my colorful kitchen, I really feel like the frame needs to pop a bit more against the white wall.

I scored these three sample pots from Lowe’s on sale and feel like any of the three could work well with the other warm, bright colors I have going on in this space.

paint frame choices

So, this is where you come in.

Out of the following options, which would you choose?

a) Option 1

b) Option 2

c) Option 3

d) Leave it alone

Are you over the chalkboard trend?  I never dived in whole-hog to begin with, so it still seems fresh enough to me.

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Painted Pumpculents + a 5 Day Celebration Giveaway ($75 to Lisa Leonard Designs)!!

painted pumpculents4

I have an awesome announcement you won’t want to miss at the end of this post, but first, I wanted to show you something.

If you recall, about a month ago, I got to have a fun birthday lunch with some girlfriends, and this was the only picture I actually took.


It seems like an odd choice, I realize, considering that we spent about 2 seconds admiring those adorable pumpculents (yes, that is my made-up word, and no, my spell check does not like it) and the rest of the time eating and swapping baby-brain stories (the winner? my friend who managed to drive off with an iPhone on the roof of her car, not once, but twice in less than a month!). But I didn’t want to forget them because I fully intended to completely rip them off pay homage to them with a twist of my own.

Here’s what I did and what you’ll need to do too if you want to make some painted pumpculents of your own:


1. Gather your supplies: mini-pumpkins, spray paint (I used Krylon Dover White and Rustoleum Gold), craft paint (gold again), cheap paintbrushes, a sharp knife, and small succulents

2. Cut around the edge of the pumpkin and remove the top/stem

3. Scoop out the guts

4. Spray paint the pumpkins (I did some white and some gold)

5. Paint your designs (I chose stripes and polka dots)

6. Sprinkle a little dirt inside your hollowed-out pumpkin to prepare for the succulent transplanting.

I was too focused on the trial-and-error process of stuffing my succulents inside the pumpkins to remember to take a picture of that step, but I’m pretty sure y’all are smart enough to figure out how to put a plant into a hole. If, however, you find yourself stumped, feel free to leave me a comment!


Confession: I kill plants like it’s my job or something. I’m usually all: “Hmm…I should probably water that plant. It’s been a while. In fact {pause} I can’t remember ever watering him. Huh. Yeah, he doesn’t look so good. {pokes finger in chalk-dry dirt} Oops.”


I have, however, managed to keep these particular succulents alive for at least 3 months each, so I’m feeling optimistic.


Of course, for 30 minutes of time and hardly any money (the pumpkins were $2.50, and the paint I already had), I’m willing to risk killing yet another plant (or 2).

The best part about this craft is how kid-friendly it is! I had grandiose plans of having each kid paint his/her own pumpkin. But, alas, their daddy decided to do things outside with sticks and fire. And there’s no way a little pumpkin painting can compete with that. (Especially once I informed the boys that they would not be wielding the knife).

In fact, Della was the only one I could tempt over for even a few minutes.


And even she was less than enthused.

Ah well. Mama’s happy with the results, and honestly, I have zero complaints about solitary crafting. How could I when it happens so rarely?

pumpculents11  I absolutely love the interplay of the gold, green, and white (especially against the backdrop of that dreamy Volary fabric). And I absolutely love how easy and cheap they were. Basically, I’m in love.

Do you agree?


In other news…although M is for Mama has existed for over a month now (under that name), I haven’t done anything yet to celebrate my blog relaunch. So I decided it was high time to remedy that!

So I did with a….


That’s right! 5 straight days of chances to win fabulous things from AMAZING shops that I love!

We’re kicking everything off with:


Lisa is such a joy. She’s an inspirational mama, a super creative soul who makes beautiful things at Lisa Leonard Designs, and is absolutely lovely and kind in real life as well. Her Instagram Feed is one of my favorites, and her blog is a daily source of encouragement and awesome style ideas.

And today, you’ll have the chance to win $75 to buy anything your heart desires from her shop just by completing the following two steps (three, if you want extra entries!)

step 1


Enter your email address:

I pinky promise not to spam you! By subscribing, you are agreeing to receive updates about this giveaway and other blog updates (like my daily post straight to your inbox). I will never share or sell your information. I am, however, requiring this as a giveaway entry, even if you already receive my updates elsewhere.

**Be sure to confirm your subscription when you see the welcome message in your inbox (or your entry won’t count) and then come back to complete STEP 2.

{Already a subscriber? Skip to Step 2}

step 2

Leave me a blog comment letting me know you have subscribed and completing the following sentence: “I’m a green {or} black thumb because…”

step 3

Fine print: Open to residents of U.S. and Canada only. Must be 13 or older to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Try-it Tuesday: Using Stain to Create Furniture Designs—a guest post from Ashley of Domestic Imperfection

Hi there, Bleeps!

(Okay, I couldn’t resist stealing Gwen from The Bold Abode’s pet term for her beloved readers.

Blog + Peeps = Bleeps…brilliant!)

A few things…


I have yet to thank you for all your kind, encouraging, and super-sweet comments on our twin photoshoot from last week. It made me so happy to hear that you enjoyed looking at the pics almost as much as we enjoyed taking them!


I also have yet to announce the winner of the free photo edit upgrade + framing.

And that is:

Renee Gabbard!

I will be in touch very soon with the details of where, how, and what, Renee!

P.S. Don’t forget that if you’re local, you still have a chance to book a FREE portrait sitting + FREE 8X10 print from Kelly just by shooting her an email to set up your appointment!: kelly_mcdowell{at}ymail{dot}com


So far, the girls have ignored both the eggplant parm inducement (it was worth the two hours it took to make it, though; absolutely DELISH!) and yesterday’s eviction notice.

But even if I’m not recovering from twin labor/delivery, I’m still not exactly in tutorial mode (although…if you had seen the amount of painting—not by me—cleaning, furniture rearranging, and general upheaval at our house yesterday, you would have witnessed crazy pregnant-mama nesting at its most frenetic).

So, I asked the lovely and talented Ashley of Domestic Imperfection to step in for me and show you guys a few tricks from her brimming bag of DIY magic.

I’ve pretty much loved every single project I’ve ever seen Ashley do—partly because they’re all pretty, but mostly because she makes them seem so darn doable and accessible (albeit, ambitiously so), which is definitely my kind of DIY.

But enough blathering from me.

I’ll let Ashley tell you a little more about herself while I get back to thinking labor-ey thoughts.


Hello everyone! I’m Ashley and I blog over at Domestic Imperfection. My blog is mostly about renovating our home, upcycling, furniture redos, DIY decor and other labor intensive cheap stuff. The project I want to share with y’all today is an easy one. A lot of the projects I do are pretty time consuming, either because they’re just big projects or I jack them up a lot and they end up taking forever. Not this one though. This one was finished in one nap time and I didn’t have to redo anything!

So here was my victim…a beat up, outdated, monster-sized coffee table.

And here is the finished product!

To start, the table was sanded down and I painted the legs Harbor Grey by Sherwin Williams. Originally I was just planning on staining the top, but as I was looking at it I saw a Union Jack in the wood grain. I knew there was no use fighting it… the table obviously wanted to be a Union Jack and I had to deliver. So we (my husband was my partner in crime on this project) taped off a Union Jack design using the wood grain to guide us. And yes, I am aware that it is completely inaccurate….I prefer to call it abstract :)

We used frog tape to do this and made sure to press down the edges really well.

Then we used different colors of stain to create the colors of the flag. We used Red Chestnut for the red, Dark Walnut for the blue and left the wood natural for the white (all stains are by Minwax).

Then we removed the tape, added two coats of polycrylic and finished just as the toddler was waking up.

Now you don’t have to make a totally inaccurate union jack either…you could do stripes or chevron or use a stencil…anything really. You’re limited only by your imagination!

(To read the full version of this tutorial go HERE)

Anyway, I hope that inspires you! If you want to check out more of my projects stop by my project gallery , which includes fun stuff like this…



Umm…I’m sorry, but when you can crank out such a cool transformation in the space of a nap time (Ashley, fess up—did you give him Benadryl first?), who cares if it’s exactly accurate.

Serious props, girl! And thanks so much for bailing me out, since, even when I’m sewing like a madwoman, I certainly am not in the mood to attempt to explain what I’m doing to anybody (including myself; you know you don’t need to be pregnant anymore when you ask yourself—out loud—why you’re in the room you’re in and then, when you can’t remember, start wondering what color you should repaint the walls).

Back to thinking labor-ey thoughts.

Y’all have a happy Tuesday, now, ya hear?

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Try-it Tuesday: Colored Chandeliers

If there are two things that I am extremely consistent about when it comes to home décor, they are these:

1) I love color


2) I looooooooove chandeliers

So, when you combine the two, I am a very happy woman indeed.

Want proof?

Della’s candy cane chandy from her old room.

The painted garage sale chandy with jewel-toned shades in my master closet.

Same shades on a different chandelier in our entryway.

Yet another spray-painted chandy in our breakfast nook.

And that’s not even counting the other two neutral-toned ones that I have in the stairwell and the craft room.

Now, you may be thinking, “But chandeliers are expensive and impractical.”

And both can be true.

But all of mine live in places where the lights don’t stay on for extended periods of time (and we’re pretty good about keeping them off unless the boys go on one of their epic, “Let’s flip every switch in the house” sprees), AND (the most awesome part of all), with the exception of the entryway version, I paid an average of $30 for each one.


Mostly by buying from the deeeeeeep discount clearance aisle at Lowe’s or by being willing to see the potential in a thrift-store chandy that wasn’t exactly what I wanted but could be made so with a little spray paint and elbow grease.

In fact, I combined those two factors when I bought a small chandelier for the twins’ room from Lowe’s last week for $25 (originally $100) and got my spray paint on.

Here’s what it originally looked like:


I wish I could have taken a picture of the saleslady’s face as I reached for the box to place it on the counter.  She practically lunged at me and said, “Noooooo! Don’t lift that! I’ll get it.”

But I was already halfway through picking it up…with one hand.

Seriously, despite what the substantial box implied to the contrary, this little guy weighed 5 pounds max.  The thought of anyone’s having paid $100 for his lightweight self is a bit ludicrous.

I assembled my usual arsenal of transformative tools:


{if it looks bright out there…it was. And hot. That too}

…and got to work.


Just the barest coat of primer to take the sheen off the metal and make the color stick.


Lots of light coats make the job go more quickly. Granted, this is a very small chandy, but I still managed to apply at least 3 light layers in about 20 minutes.


The “hardest” part = not hard at all, really. Just a little tedious to make sure you’ve managed to coat every surface of the crystals.

Ready for the big {ahem, small} reveal?


As I mentioned, this is going in the twins’ room, whose color scheme is largely determined by an accent wall covered in this Amy Butler wallpaper (which, if all goes as planned, will be hung today):


Besides the chandelier, the wallpaper, and a bench with colorful seat cushions, the rest of the room will remain calm and neutral, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the pops of color I’ve chosen contrast with the walls, which are this uber-soothing shade of greige (love, love, love it!):

{Sherwin William’s Light French Gray}


Speaking of colored chandeliers, I have a question (and a sneak peak!) for you.

We’ve been plugging away on the garage addition since Shaun got back from his last trip, and we’re making some exciting progress!

I’ve already shown you an inspiration board for the basic color scheme and look that I’m going for:


Well, we’ve got the paint on the walls, and I scored this sectional (plus a matching ottoman) on craigslist the other day for a great price:

So, we’re well on our way.

{Which is what I keep telling myself every time I think about how much left there is to do).

Here’s what we’ve got so far:


So…here’s where you come in.

I like the shape of the chandeliers.

And they were a decent price.

And they provide lots of light, which is important in such a large room.


I don’t love the color.

I know it’s a little hard to tell from these shots, but they’re a matte oil-rubbed bronze, and it gives them too formal of a look for what I would like in this room, which will eventually wear many hats as a toy room/game room/school room.


Since I clearly am not the least bit afraid of painting chandeliers, I would love some feedback on what color you think I should go with:

I could go a shade or two lighter than the walls with something like Rustoleum’s Sea Foam Green.

…or go for a bit of drama with a hammered copper treatment.

…or try to match the indigo in the rug with a deep, glossy shade like this one.


I usually have a vision in my head for where I want to go with color, but right now, I mostly just know what I don’t want.


Feel free to throw out general colors or send me links to specific options.

Oh, and since the main point of this post was that I painted a chandelier for the twins’ room, here are few more shots of Amelia, the aqua chandy (I really need to stop using names I like on inanimate objects since all I’ll be able to think when atempting to name any possible future children or pets is: “I had a blender/light fixture/glue gun named that once”).


I hope that bright, happy aqua makes the twins smile as much as it does me!

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